When the state takes over the parenting of someone else’s child, it has both a legal and moral responsibility to be a good parent. Quite often this will require determined effort to remedy the inadequacies or serious failure of the earlier parenting experienced by the young person. These failures, for whatever reason they arise, can result in profound deficiencies, be they in education, social skills or personal development. Remedial work depends not only on the skills but also the commitment, ambition and determination of the staff, the carers and possibly the members of the wider family.
This report is aimed at encouraging good practice and ensuring that sound quality standards become the everyday experience for each and every child who has to depend upon the state for their safety, their proper development and their confidence in their future. Although the task demands much of everyone involved with each young person it is, nevertheless, both essential and potentially most rewarding for both the young person and the state. Drift is the enemy of the good in the life of a young person. Failure is costly both in personal terms and for the state.
Around half of the children currently in custody in England and Wales have been in care at some point. At the very least, that tells us that we are missing opportunities to turn young lives around, and prevent future crime.
This report describes practical steps to take those opportunities. It is based on what we have been told by young people who know the system from the inside, the experience of professionals in many agencies who care for them, a unique survey of local authorities and a fresh analysis of relevant statistical and research evidence.
Reference: Lord Laming. (2016). In care, out of trouble: How the life chances of children in care can be transformed by protecting them from unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system. London: Prison Reform Trust
See also the systematic literature review that academically informed this report: Staines, J. (2016). Risk, Adverse Influence and Criminalisation: Understanding the over-representation of looked after children in the youth justice system. Bristol: Bristol University
94% of looked after children in England and Wales  do not get into trouble with the law, nonetheless, children in care are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system and in custody, where many have a particularly poor experience. This review was established to examine the reasons for, and how best to tackle, the over-representation of children in care, or with experience of care, in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.